[The Complaint: or, Night-Thoughts on Life, Death & Immortality.]
Night II. On Time, Death, And Friendship.
Humbly inscribed to the right honourable the Earl of Wilmington.
1 "When the cock crew, he wept,"— smote by that eye,
2 Which looks on me, on all: that Power who bids
3 This midnight sentinel, with clarion shrill,
4 (Emblem of that which shall awake the dead,)
5 Rouse souls from slumber, into thoughts of heaven.
6 Shall I too weep? Where then is fortitude?
7 And, fortitude abandon'd, where is man?
8 I know the terms on which he sees the light:
9 He that is born is listed; life is war,
10 Eternal war with woe. Who bears it best,
11 Deserves it least. — On other themes I'll dwell.
12 Lorenzo! let me turn my thoughts on thee,
13 And thine on themes may profit; profit there
14 Where most thy need: themes, too, the genuine growth
15 Of dear Philander's dust. He thus, though dead,
16 May still befriend. — What themes? Time's wondrous price,
17 Death, friendship, and Philander's final scene.
18 So could I touch these themes as might obtain
19 Thine ear, nor leave thy heart quite disengaged,
20 The good deed would delight me; half-impress
21 On my dark cloud an Iris; and from grief
22 Call glory. — Dost thou mourn Philander's fate?
23 I know thou say'st it: says thy life the same?
24 — He mourns the dead who lives as they desire.
25 Where is that thrift, that avarice of TIME,
26 (O glorious avarice!) thought of death inspires,
27 As rumour'd robberies endear our gold?
28 O Time! than gold more sacred; more a load
29 Than lead to fools; and fools reputed wise.
30 What moment granted man without account?
31 What years are squander'd, Wisdom's debt unpaid!
32 Our wealth in days all due to that discharge.
33 Haste, haste, he lies in wait, he's at the door,
34 Insidious Death! should his strong hand arrest,
35 No composition sets the prisoner free.
36 Eternity's inexorable chain
37 Fast binds; and vengeance claims the full arrear.
38 How late I shudder'd on the brink! how late
39 Life call'd for her last refuge in despair!
40 That time is mine, O Mead, to thee I owe;
41 Fain would I pay thee with eternity.
42 But ill my genius answers my desire;
43 My sickly song is mortal, past thy cure.
44 Accept the will; — it dies not with my strain.
45 For what calls thy disease, Lorenzo? Not
46 For Aesculapian, but for moral aid.
47 Thou think'st it folly to be wise too soon.
48 Youth is not rich in time, it may be poor;
49 Part with it as with money, sparing; pay
50 No moment but in purchase of its worth;
51 And what its worth, ask death-beds; they can tell.
52 Part with it as with life, reluctant; big
53 With holy hope of nobler time to come;
54 Time higher-aim'd, still nearer the great mark
55 Of men and angels, virtue more divine.
56 Is this our duty, wisdom, glory, gain?
57 (These Heaven benign in vital union binds:)
58 And sport we like the natives of the bough,
59 When vernal suns inspire? Amusement reigns
60 Man's great demand: to trifle is to live:
61 And is it then a trifle, too, to die?
62 Thou say'st I preach, Lorenzo! 'T is confess'd.
63 What, if, for once, I preach thee quite awake?
64 Who wants amusement in the flame of battle?
65 Is it not treason to the soul immortal,
66 Her foes in arms, eternity the prize?
67 Will toys amuse when medicines cannot cure?
68 When spirits ebb, when life's enchanting scenes
69 Their lustre lose, and lessen in our sight,
70 (As lands and cities with their glittering spires,
71 To the poor shatter'd bark, by sudden storm
72 — Thrown off to sea, and soon to perish there,)
73 Will toys amuse? No; thrones will then be toys,
74 And earth and skies seem dust upon the scale.
75 Redeem we time? — Its loss we dearly buy.
76 What pleads Lorenzo for his high-prized sports?
77 He pleads time's numerous blanks; he loudly pleads
78 The straw-like trifles on life's common stream.
79 From whom those blanks and trifles but from thee?
80 No blank, no trifle, Nature made, or meant.
81 Virtue, or purposed virtue, still be thine;
82 This cancels thy complaint at once; this leaves
83 In act no trifle, and no blank in time.
84 This greatens, fills, immortalizes all;
85 This the blest art of turning all to gold;
86 This the good heart's prerogative to raise
87 A royal tribute from the poorest hours;
88 Immense revenue! every moment pays.
89 If nothing more than purpose in thy power,
90 Thy purpose firm is equal to the deed:
91 Who does the best his circumstance allows,
92 Does well, acts nobly; angels could no more.
93 Our outward act, indeed, admits restraint;
94 'T is not in things o'er thought to domineer.
95 Guard well thy thought; our thoughts are heard in heaven.
96 On all-important time, through every age,
97 Though much, and warm, the wise have urged, the man
98 Is yet unborn who duly weighs an hour.
99 "I've lost a day"— the prince who nobly cried,
100 Had been an emperor without his crown;
101 "Of Rome?"say, rather, lord of human race:
102 He spoke as if deputed by mankind.
103 So should all speak: so Reason speaks in all.
104 From the soft whispers of that god in man,
105 Why fly to Folly, why to Frenzy fly,
106 For rescue from the blessing we possess?
107 Time, the supreme! — time is eternity;
108 Pregnant with all eternity can give;
109 Pregnant with all that makes archangels smile.
110 Who murders time, he crushes in the birth
111 A power ethereal, only not adored.
112 Ah! how unjust to Nature and himself
113 Is thoughtless, thankless, inconsistent man!
114 Like children babbling nonsense in their sports,
115 We censure Nature for a span too short;
116 That span too short we tax as tedious too;
117 Torture invention, all expedients tire,
118 To lash the lingering moments into speed,
119 And whirl us (happy riddance!) from ourselves.
120 Art, brainless Art! our furious charioteer,
121 (For Nature's voice unstifled would recall,)
122 Drives headlong towards the precipice of death;
123 Death, most our dread; death thus more dreadful made.
124 O what a riddle of absurdity!
125 Leisure is pain; takes off our chariot-wheels;
126 How heavily we drag the load of life!
127 Blest leisure is our curse; like that of Cain,
128 It makes us wander; wander earth around
129 To fly that tyrant, Thought. As Atlas groan'd
130 The world beneath, we groan beneath an hour.
131 We cry for mercy to the next amusement;
132 The next amusement mortgages our fields;
133 Slight inconvenience! Prisons hardly frown,
134 From hateful time if prisons set us free.
135 Yet when Death kindly tenders us relief,
136 We call him cruel: years to moments shrink,
137 Ages to years. The telescope is turn'd.
138 To man's false optics (from his folly false)
139 Time, in advance, behind him hides his wings,
140 And seems to creep, decrepit with his age.
141 Behold him, when pass'd by; what then is seen
142 But his broad pinions, swifter than the winds?
143 And all mankind, in contradiction strong,
144 Rueful, aghast, cry out on his career.
145 Leave to thy foes these errors, and these ills;
146 To Nature just, their cause and cure explore.
147 Not short Heaven's bounty, boundless our expense;
148 No niggard, Nature; men are prodigals.
149 We waste, not use, our time; we breathe, not live.
150 Time wasted is existence, used is life.
151 And bare existence man, to live ordain'd,
152 Wrings and oppresses with enormous weight.
153 And why? Since time was given for use, not waste,
154 Enjoin'd to fly, with tempest, tide, and stars,
155 To keep his speed, nor ever wait for man;
156 Time's use was doom'd a pleasure; waste, a pain;
157 That man might feel his error, if unseen;
158 And, feeling, fly to labour for his cure;
159 Not, blundering, split on idleness for ease.
160 Life's cares are comforts; such by Heaven design'd;
161 He that has none, must make them, or be wretched.
162 Cares are employments; and without employ
163 The soul is on a rack; the rack of rest,
164 To souls most adverse; action all their joy.
165 Here, then, the riddle, mark'd above, unfolds:
166 Then time turns torment, when man turns a fool.
167 We rave, we wrestle with great Nature's plan;
168 We thwart the Deity; and 't is decreed,
169 Who thwart His will shall contradict their own.
170 Hence our unnatural quarrel with ourselves;
171 Our thoughts at enmity; our bosom-broil:
172 We push Time from us, and we wish him back;
173 Lavish of lustrums, and yet fond of life;
174 Life we think long and short; Death seek and shun;
175 Body and soul, like peevish man and wife,
176 United jar, and yet are loath to part.
177 O the dark days of vanity! while here
178 How tasteless, and how terrible when gone!
179 Gone! they ne'er go; when past, they haunt us still;
180 The spirit walks of every day deceased,
181 And smiles an angel, or a fury frowns.
182 Nor death nor life delight us. If time past,
183 And time possess'd, both pain us, what can please?
184 That which the Deity to please ordain'd, —
185 Time used. The man who consecrates his hours
186 By vigorous effort, and an honest aim,
187 At once he draws the sting of life and death;
188 He walks with Nature, and her paths are peace.
189 Our error's cause and cure are seen: see next
190 Time's nature, origin, importance, speed;
191 And thy great gain from urging his career. —
192 All-sensual man, because untouch'd, unseen,
193 He looks on time as nothing. Nothing else
194 Is truly man's: 't is Fortune's. — Time's a god.
195 Hast thou ne'er heard of Time's omnipotence?
196 For, or against, what wonders can he do!
197 And will: to stand blank neuter he disdains.
198 Not on those terms was Time (Heaven's stranger!) sent
199 On his important embassy to man.
200 Lorenzo! no; on the long-destined hour,
201 From everlasting ages growing ripe,
202 That memorable hour of wondrous birth,
203 When the dread Sire, on emanation bent,
204 And big with Nature, rising in his might,
205 Call'd forth Creation, (for then Time was born,)
206 By Godhead streaming through a thousand worlds:
207 Not on those terms, from the great days of heaven,
208 From old Eternity's mysterious orb,
209 Was Time cut off, and cast beneath the skies;
210 The Skies, which watch him in his new abode,
211 Measuring his motions by revolving spheres;
212 That horologe machinery divine.
213 Hours, Days, and Months, and Years, his children, play
214 Like numerous wings around him, as he flies:
215 Or, rather, as unequal plumes, they shape
216 His ample pinions, swift as darted flame,
217 To gain his goal, to reach his ancient rest,
218 And join anew Eternity his sire;
219 In his immutability to nest,
220 When worlds, that count his circles now, unhinged,
221 (Fate the loud signal sounding,) headlong rush
222 To timeless Night and Chaos, whence they rose.
223 Why spur the speedy? Why with levities
224 New-wing thy short, short day's too rapid flight?
225 Know'st thou or what thou dost, or what is done?
226 Man flies from time, and time from man; too soon
227 In sad divorce this double flight must end;
228 And then, where are we? where, Lorenzo, then
229 Thy sports? thy pomps? — I grant thee, in a state
230 Not unambitious; in the ruffled shroud,
231 Thy Parian tomb's triumphant arch beneath.
232 Has Death his fopperies? Then well may life
233 Put on her plume, and in her rainbow shine.
234 Ye well-array'd! ye lilies of our land!
235 Ye lilies male, who neither toil, nor spin,
236 (As sister lilies might,) if not so wise
237 As Solomon, more sumptuous to the sight!
238 Ye delicate! who nothing can support,
239 Yourselves most insupportable! for whom
240 The winter rose must blow, the Sun put on
241 A brighter beam in Leo; silky-soft
242 Favonius breathe still softer, or be chid;
243 And other worlds send odours, sauce, and song,
244 And robes, and notions, framed in foreign looms!
245 O ye Lorenzos of our age! who deem
246 One moment unamused a misery
247 Not made for feeble man; who call aloud
248 For every bauble drivell'd o'er by sense;
249 For rattles, and conceits of every cast,
250 For change of follies, and relays of joy,
251 To drag your patient through the tedious length
252 Of a short winter's day; — say, sages; say,
253 Wit's oracles; say, dreamers of gay dreams!
254 How will you weather an eternal night,
255 Where such expedients fail?
256 O treacherous Conscience! while she seems to sleep
257 On rose and myrtle, lull'd with siren song;
258 While she seems, nodding o'er her charge, to drop
259 On headlong appetite the slacken'd rein,
260 And give us up to licence, unrecall'd,
261 Unmark'd, — see, from behind her secret stand,
262 The sly informer minutes every fault,
263 And her dread diary with horror fills.
264 Not the gross act alone employs her pen;
265 She reconnoitres Fancy's airy band,
266 A watchful foe! the formidable spy,
267 Listening, o'erhears the whispers of our camp;
268 Our dawning purposes of heart explores,
269 And steals our embryos of iniquity.
270 As all-rapacious usurers conceal
271 Their Doomsday-book from all-consuming heirs;
272 Thus, with indulgence most severe, she treats
273 Us spendthrifts of inestimable time;
274 Unnoted, notes each moment misapplied;
275 In leaves more durable than leaves of brass,
276 Writes our whole history; which Death shall read
277 In every pale delinquent's private ear;
278 And Judgment publish; publish to more worlds
279 Than this; and endless Age in groans resound.
280 Lorenzo, such that sleeper in thy breast!
281 Such is her slumber; and her vengeance such
282 For slighted counsel; such thy future peace!
283 And think'st thou still thou canst be wise too soon?
284 But why on Time so lavish is my song?
285 On this great theme kind Nature keeps a school,
286 To teach her sons herself. Each night we die;
287 Each morn are born anew: each day a life!
288 And shall we kill each day? If trifling kills,
289 Sure vice must butcher. O what heaps of slain
290 Cry out for vengeance on us! Time destroy'd
291 Is suicide, where more than blood is spilt.
292 Time flies, Death urges, knells call, Heaven invites,
293 Hell threatens: all exerts; in effort, all;
294 More than creation labours! — labours more!
295 And is there in creation what, amidst
296 This tumult universal, wing'd despatch,
297 And ardent energy, supinely yawns? —
298 Man sleeps, and man alone; and man, whose fate,
299 Fate irreversible, entire, extreme,
300 Endless, hair-hung, breeze-shaken, o'er the gulf
301 A moment trembles; drops! and man, for whom
302 All else is in alarm; man, the sole cause
303 Of this surrounding storm! — and yet he sleeps,
304 As the storm rock'd to rest. "Throw years away?"
305 Throw empires, and be blameless. Moments seize;
306 Heaven's on their wing: a moment we may wish
307 When worlds want wealth to buy. Bid Day stand still,
308 Bid him drive back his car, and re-import
309 The period past, re-give the given hour.
310 Lorenzo, more than miracles we want:
311 Lorenzo — O for yesterdays to come!
312 Such is the language of the man awake;
313 His ardour such for what oppresses thee.
314 And is his ardour vain, Lorenzo? No;
315 That more than miracle the gods indulge:
316 To-day is yesterday return'd; return'd
317 Full-power'd to cancel, expiate, raise, adorn,
318 And reinstate us on the rock of peace.
319 Let it not share its predecessor's fate;
320 Nor, like its elder sisters, die a fool.
321 Shall it evaporate in fume? fly off
322 Fuliginous, and stain us deeper still?
323 Shall we be poorer for the plenty pour'd?
324 More wretched for the clemencies of Heaven?
325 Where shall I find him? Angels! tell me where.
326 You know him: he is near you: point him out:
327 Shall I see glories beaming from his brow,
328 Or trace his footsteps by the rising flowers?
329 Your golden wings, now hovering o'er him, shed
330 Protection; now are waving in applause
331 To that blest Son of Foresight! Lord of Fate!
332 That awful Independent on To-morrow!
333 Whose work is done; who triumphs in the past;
334 Whose yesterdays look backward with a smile;
335 Nor, like the Parthian, wound him as they fly;
336 That common, but opprobrious lot! Past hours,
337 If not by guilt, yet wound us by their flight,
338 If folly bounds our prospect by the grave,
339 All feeling of futurity benumb'd;
340 All god-like passion for eternals quench'd;
341 All relish of realities expired;
342 Renounced all correspondence with the skies;
343 Our freedom chain'd; quite wingless our desire;
344 In sense dark-prison'd all that ought to soar;
345 Prone to the centre; crawling in the dust;
346 Dismounted every great and glorious aim;
347 Embruted every faculty divine;
348 Heart-buried in the rubbish of the world:
349 The world, that gulf of souls, immortal souls,
350 Souls elevate, angelic, wing'd with fire
351 To reach the distant skies, and triumph there
352 On thrones, which shall not mourn their masters changed;
353 Though we from earth, ethereal they that fell.
354 Such veneration due, O man, to man.
355 Who venerate themselves, the world despise.
356 For what, gay friend, is this escutcheon'd world,
357 Which hangs out DEATH in one eternal night?
358 A night that glooms us in the noon-tide ray,
359 And wraps our thought, at banquets, in the shroud.
360 Life's little stage is a small eminence,
361 Inch-high the grave above; that home of man,
362 Where dwells the multitude: we gaze around;
363 We read their monuments; we sigh; and while
364 We sigh, we sink, and are what we deplored:
365 Lamenting, or lamented, all our lot!
366 Is Death at distance? No: he has been on thee;
367 And given sure earnest of his final blow.
368 Those hours that lately smiled, where are they now?
369 Pallid to thought, and ghastly! drown'd, all drown'd
370 In that great deep, which nothing disembogues!
371 And, dying, they bequeath'd thee small renown.
372 The rest are on the wing: how fleet their flight!
373 Already has the fatal train took fire;
374 A moment, and the world's blown up to thee,
375 The sun is darkness, and the stars are dust.
376 'T is greatly wise to talk with our past hours;
377 And ask them, what report they bore to Heaven;
378 And how they might have borne more welcome news.
379 Their answers form what men Experience call;
380 If Wisdom's friend, her best; if not, worst foe.
381 O reconcile them! Kind Experience cries,
382 "There's nothing here, but what as nothing weighs;
383 The more our joy, the more we know it vain,
384 And by success are tutor'd to despair."
385 Nor is it only thus, but must be so.
386 Who knows not this, though grey, is still a child.
387 Loose then from earth the grasp of fond desire,
388 Weigh anchor, and some happier clime explore.
389 Art thou so moor'd thou canst not disengage,
390 Nor give thy thoughts a ply to future scenes?
391 Since, by life's passing breath, blown up from earth
392 Light, as the summer's dust, we take in air
393 A moment's giddy flight, and fall again;
394 Join the dull mass, increase the trodden soil,
395 And sleep till Earth herself shall be no more;
396 Since, then, (as emmets, their small world o'erthrown,)
397 We, sore amazed, from out earth's ruins crawl,
398 And rise to fate extreme of foul or fair,
399 As man's own choice, (controller of the skies!)
400 As man's despotic will, perhaps one hour,
401 (O how omnipotent is time!) decrees;
402 Should not each warning give a strong alarm?
403 Warning, far less than that of bosom torn
404 From bosom, bleeding o'er the sacred dead!
405 Should not each dial strike us as we pass,
406 Portentous, as the written wall, which struck,
407 O'er midnight bowls, the proud Assyrian pale,
408 Erewhile high-flush'd with insolence and wine?
409 Like that the dial speaks; and points to thee,
410 Lorenzo! loath to break thy banquet up:
411 "O man, thy kingdom is departing from thee;
412 And, while it lasts, is emptier than my shade."
413 Its silent language such: nor need'st thou call
414 Thy Magi to decipher what it means.
415 Know, like the Median, Fate is in thy walls:
416 Dost ask, "How?" "Whence?"Belshazzar-like, amazed?
417 Man's make encloses the sure seeds of death;
418 Life feeds the murderer. Ingrate! he thrives
419 On her own meal, and then his nurse devours.
420 But here, Lorenzo, the delusion lies;
421 That solar shadow, as it measures life,
422 It life resembles too: life speeds away
423 From point to point, though seeming to stand still.
424 The cunning fugitive is swift by stealth:
425 Too subtle is the movement to be seen;
426 Yet soon man's hour is up, and we are gone.
427 Warnings point out our danger; gnomons, time:
428 As these are useless when the sun is set;
429 So those, but when more glorious Reason shines.
430 Reason should judge in all; in Reason's eye,
431 That sedentary shadow travels hard.
432 But such our gravitation to the wrong,
433 So prone our hearts to whisper what we wish,
434 'T is later with the wise than he's aware;
435 A Wilmington goes slower than the sun:
436 And all mankind mistake their time of day;
437 E'en age itself. Fresh hopes are hourly sown
438 In furrow'd brows. So gentle life's descent,
439 We shut our eyes, and think it is a plain.
440 We take fair days in Winter for the Spring;
441 And turn our blessings into bane. Since oft
442 Man must compute that age he cannot feel,
443 He scarce believes he's older for his years.
444 Thus, at life's latest eve, we keep in store
445 One disappointment sure, to crown the rest, —
446 The disappointment of a promised hour.
447 On this, or similar, Philander! — thou
448 Whose mind was moral as the Preacher's tongue,
449 And strong to wield all science worth the name; —
450 How often we talk'd down the summer's sun,
451 And cool'd our passions by the breezy stream!
452 How often thaw'd and shorten'd winter's eve,
453 By conflict kind, that struck out latent truth,
454 Best found, so sought; to the recluse more coy!
455 Thoughts disentangle, passing o'er the lip;
456 Clean runs the thread; if not, 't is thrown away
457 Or kept to tie up nonsense for a song;
458 Song, fashionably fruitless; such as stains
459 The fancy, and unhallow'd passion fires;
460 Chiming her saints to Cytherea's fane.
461 Know'st thou, Lorenzo, what a friend contains?
462 As bees mix'd nectar draw from fragrant flowers,
463 So men, from FRIENDSHIP, wisdom and delight;
464 Twins tied by Nature, if they part, they die.
465 Hast thou no friend to set thy mind abroach?
466 Good sense will stagnate. Thoughts shut up want air,
467 And spoil, like bales unopen'd to the sun.
468 Had thought been all, sweet speech had been denied;
469 Speech, thought's canal! speech, thought's criterion too!
470 Thought in the mine may come forth gold or dross;
471 When coin'd in word, we know its real worth.
472 If sterling, store it for thy future use;
473 'T will buy thee benefit; perhaps, renown.
474 Thought, too, deliver'd, is the more possess'd:
475 Teaching we learn; and giving we retain
476 The births of intellect; when dumb, forgot.
477 Speech ventilates our intellectual fire;
478 Speech burnishes our mental magazine,
479 Brightens for ornament, and whets for use.
480 What numbers, sheath'd in erudition, lie,
481 Plunged to the hilts in venerable tomes,
482 And rusted in; who might have borne an edge,
483 And play'd a sprightly beam, if born to speech;
484 If born blest heirs of half their mother's tongue!
485 'T is thought's exchange which, like the' alternate push
486 Of waves conflicting, breaks the learned scum,
487 And defecates the student's standing pool.
488 In contemplation is his proud resource?
489 'T is poor as proud, by converse unsustain'd.
490 Rude thought runs wild in contemplation's field;
491 Converse, the menage, breaks it to the bit
492 Of due restraint; and emulation's spur
493 Gives graceful energy, by rivals awed.
494 'T is converse qualifies for solitude,
495 As exercise for salutary rest.
496 By that untutor'd, Contemplation raves;
497 And Nature's fool by Wisdom's is outdone.
498 Wisdom, though richer than Peruvian mines,
499 And sweeter than the sweet ambrosial hive, —
500 What is she but the means of happiness?
501 That unobtain'd, than Folly more a fool;
502 A melancholy fool, without her bells.
503 Friendship, the means of wisdom, richly gives
504 The precious end which makes our wisdom wise.
505 Nature, in zeal for human amity,
506 Denies or damps an undivided joy.
507 Joy is an import; joy is an exchange;
508 Joy flies monopolists; it calls for two;
509 Rich fruit, heaven-planted, never pluck'd by one!
510 Needful auxiliars are our friends, to give
511 To social man true relish of himself.
512 Full on ourselves descending in a line,
513 Pleasure's bright beam is feeble in delight:
514 Delight intense is taken by rebound;
515 Reverberated pleasures fire the breast.
516 Celestial Happiness, whene'er she stoops
517 To visit earth, one shrine the goddess finds,
518 And one alone, to make her sweet amends
519 For absent heaven, — the bosom of a friend;
520 Where heart meets heart, reciprocally soft,
521 Each other's pillow to repose divine.
522 Beware the counterfeit: in Passion's flame
523 Hearts melt; but melt like ice, soon harder froze.
524 True love strikes root in Reason, Passion's foe:
525 Virtue alone entenders us for life;
526 I wrong her much — entenders us for ever:
527 Of Friendship's fairest fruits, the fruit most fair
528 Is Virtue kindling at a rival fire,
529 And emulously rapid in her race.
530 O the soft enmity! endearing strife!
531 This carries friendship to her noon-tide point,
532 And gives the rivet of eternity.
533 From Friendship, which outlives my former themes,
534 Glorious survivor of old Time and Death!
535 From Friendship, thus, that flower of heavenly seed,
536 The wise extract earth's most Hyblaean bliss,
537 Superior wisdom, crown'd with smiling joy.
538 But for whom blossoms this Elysian flower?
539 Abroad they find, who cherish it at home.
540 Lorenzo, pardon what my love extorts,
541 An honest love, and not afraid to frown.
542 Though choice of follies fasten on the great,
543 None clings more obstinate, than fancy fond
544 That sacred Friendship is their easy prey;
545 Caught by the wafture of a golden lure,
546 Or fascination of a high-born smile.
547 Their smiles the great and the coquette throw out
548 For others' hearts, tenacious of their own;
549 And we no less of ours, when such the bait.
550 Ye Fortune's cofferers, ye powers of wealth,
551 Can gold gain friendship? Impudence of hope!
552 As well mere man an angel might beget.
553 Love, and love only, is the loan for love.
554 Lorenzo! pride repress; nor hope to find
555 A friend, but what has found a friend in thee.
556 All like the purchase; few the price will pay;
557 And this makes friends such miracles below.
558 What, if (since daring on so nice a theme)
559 I show thee Friendship delicate as dear,
560 Of tender violations apt to die?
561 Reserve will wound it, and Distrust destroy.
562 Deliberate on all things with thy friend.
563 But since friends grow not thick on every bough,
564 Nor every friend unrotten at the core;
565 First, on thy friend, deliberate with thyself;
566 Pause, ponder, sift; not eager in the choice,
567 Nor jealous of the chosen: fixing, fix;
568 Judge before friendship; then confide till death.
569 Well for thy friend; but nobler far for thee;
570 How gallant danger for earth's highest prize!
571 A friend is worth all hazards we can run.
572 "Poor is the friendless master of a world:
573 A world in purchase for a friend is gain."
574 So sung he: (angels hear that angel sing!
575 Angels from friendship gather half their joy:)
576 So sung Philander, as his friend went round
577 In the rich ichor, in the generous blood
578 Of Bacchus, purple god of joyous wit,
579 A brow solute, and ever-laughing eye.
580 He drank long health and virtue to his friend;
581 His friend, who warm'd him more, who more inspired.
582 Friendship's the wine of life; but friendship new
583 (Not such was his) is neither strong nor pure.
584 O for the bright complexion, cordial warmth,
585 And elevating spirit of a friend,
586 For twenty summers ripening by my side;
587 All feculence of falsehood long thrown down;
588 All social virtues rising in his soul,
589 As crystal clear, and smiling as they rise!
590 Here nectar flows; it sparkles in our sight;
591 Rich to the taste, and genuine from the heart.
592 High-flavour'd bliss for gods! on earth how rare!
593 On earth how lost! — Philander is no more.
594 Think'st thou the theme intoxicates my song?
595 Am I too warm? — Too warm I cannot be.
596 I loved him much; but now I love him more.
597 Like birds, whose beauties languish, half conceal'd,
598 Till, mounted on the wing, their glossy plumes
599 Expanded shine with azure, green, and gold;
600 How blessings brighten as they take their flight!
601 His flight Philander took; his upward flight,
602 If ever soul ascended. Had he dropp'd,
603 (That eagle genius!) O, had he let fall
604 One feather as he flew, I then had wrote
605 What friends might flatter, prudent foes forbear,
606 Rivals scarce damn, and Zoilus reprieve.
607 Yet what I can, I must: it were profane
608 To quench a glory lighted at the skies,
609 And cast in shadows his illustrious close.
610 Strange, the theme most affecting, most sublime,
611 Momentous most to man, should sleep unsung!
612 And yet it sleeps, by genius unawaked,
613 Paynim or Christian, to the blush of wit.
614 Man's highest triumph, man's profoundest fall,
615 The death-bed of the just, is yet undrawn
616 By mortal hand; it merits a Divine!
617 Angels should paint it, angels ever there;
618 There, on a post of honour, and of joy.
619 Dare I presume, then? But Philander bids;
620 And glory tempts, and inclination calls.
621 Yet am I struck; as struck the soul beneath
622 Aerial groves' impenetrable gloom;
623 Or in some mighty ruin's solemn shade;
624 Or gazing by pale lamps on high-born dust,
625 In vaults; thin courts of poor unflatter'd kings!
626 Or at the midnight altar's hallow'd flame.
627 It is religion to proceed: I pause —
628 And enter, awed, the temple of my theme.
629 Is it his death-bed? No: it is his shrine:
630 Behold him there just rising to a god.
631 The chamber where the good man meets his fate
632 Is privileged beyond the common walk
633 Of virtuous life, quite in the verge of heaven.
634 Fly, ye profane! if not, draw near with awe,
635 Receive the blessing, and adore the chance
636 That threw in this Bethesda your disease:
637 If unrestored by this, despair your cure.
638 For here resistless Demonstration dwells;
639 A death-bed's a detector of the heart.
640 Here tired Dissimulation drops her mask
641 Through Life's grimace, that mistress of the scene!
642 Here real and apparent are the same.
643 You see the man; you see his hold on heaven,
644 If sound his virtue, as Philander's sound:
645 Heaven waits not the last moment; owns her friends
646 On this side death; and points them out to men,
647 A lecture, silent, but of sovereign power!
648 To vice, confusion; and to virtue, peace.
649 Whatever farce the boastful hero plays,
650 Virtue alone has majesty in death;
651 And greater still, the more the tyrant frowns.
652 Philander! he severely frown'd on thee:
653 "No warning given! unceremonious fate!
654 A sudden rush from life's meridian joys!
655 A wrench from all we love, from all we are!
656 A restless bed of pain! a plunge opaque
657 Beyond conjecture, feeble Nature's dread!
658 Strong Reason's shudder at the dark unknown!
659 A sun extinguish'd, a just opening grave!
660 And, O! the last, last — what? (can words express,
661 Thought reach it?) the last — silence of a friend!"
662 Where are those horrors, that amazement where,
663 This hideous group of ills, which singly shock,
664 Demand from man? — I thought him man till now.
665 Through Nature's wreck, through vanquish'd agonies,
666 (Like the stars struggling through this midnight gloom,)
667 What gleams of joy, what more than human peace!
668 Where the frail mortal, the poor abject worm?
669 No, not in death the mortal to be found.
670 His conduct is a legacy for all;
671 Richer than Mammon's for his single heir.
672 His comforters he comforts; great in ruin,
673 With unreluctant grandeur, gives, not yields,
674 His soul sublime; and closes with his fate.
675 How our hearts burnt within us at the scene!
676 Whence this brave bound o'er limits fix'd to man?
677 His God sustains him in his final hour!
678 His final hour brings glory to his God!
679 Man's glory Heaven vouchsafes to call her own.
680 We gaze, we weep mix'd tears of grief and joy!
681 Amazement strikes, devotion bursts to flame!
682 Christians adore, and infidels believe!
683 As some tall tower, or lofty mountain's brow,
684 Detains the sun, illustrious from its height;
685 While rising vapours and descending shades,
686 With damps, and darkness, drown the spacious vale;
687 Undamp'd by doubt, undarken'd by despair,
688 Philander thus augustly rears his head,
689 At that black hour which general horror sheds
690 On the low level of the' inglorious throng:
691 Sweet Peace, and heavenly Hope, and humble Joy,
692 Divinely beam on his exalted soul,
693 Destruction gild, and crown him for the skies,
694 With incommunicable lustre bright.